Steroid Hormone Reactivity in Fathers Watching Their Children Compete

Human Nature 29 (3):268-282 (2018)
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Abstract

This study examines steroid production in fathers watching their children compete, extending previous research of vicarious success or failure on men’s hormone levels. Salivary testosterone and cortisol levels were measured in 18 fathers watching their children play in a soccer tournament. Participants completed a survey about the game and provided demographic information. Fathers with higher pregame testosterone levels were more likely to report that referees were biased against their children’s teams, and pre- to postgame testosterone elevation was predicted by watching sons compete rather than daughters as well as perceptions of unfair officiating. Pregame cortisol was not associated with pregame testosterone or with perceived officiating bias, but cortisol did fluctuate synergistically with testosterone during spectator competition. Although fathers showed no consistent testosterone change in response to winning or losing, pregame testosterone may mediate steroid hormone reactivity to other aspects of their children’s competition.

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